BBC condemned: Rob Peston attacks ‘disappointing’ Brexit coverage and Alex Salmond ‘fear’

BBC condemned: Rob Peston attacks ‘disappointing’ Brexit coverage and Alex Salmond ‘fear’

Mr Peston accused the BBC of pulling the news report on the economic impact of a Scottish independence vote when he was the BBC’s Economics Editor in 2014 as Scotland held its referendum. The reporter claimed his piece on a independence vote’s economic implications was ditched minutes before it was due to be broadcast. Speaking at the 2020 Hugh Cudlipp journalism lecture, Peston said: “A couple of days before the referendum, and just ten minutes before going to air on the ten o’clock news, a piece I had made on the economic implications of independence was pulled, on the orders of the Corporation’s most senior executives, who feared the ire of Alex Salmond.”

Mr Peston, 59, said: “Those who run the BBC had a sheer terror of prompting a political backlash.”

Consequently, he said, the Corporation was now afraid to “stick its neck out and give a view”.

He added: “The least edifying aspect of the incident is that assorted bosses subsequently rang me to distance themselves from the decision, just in case it leaked and became a cause celebre.”

Mr Peston, now the Political Editor for ITV News and the host of his own weekly political show, said he had “watched with disappointment” the BBC’s coverage of the Brexit referendum, which he said had “confused balance with due impartiality”.

The reporter, who spent nine years with the BBC before moving to ITV, also claimed that Jeremy Corbyn had refused to be interviewed by him during last year’s General Election campaign because of concerns about his reporting.

Mr Peston said Seumas Milne, Mr Corbyn’s director of communications, had accused him of “slanted editorialising” when it came to coverage of Labour and anti-Semitism.

A Labour spokesman said: “Concerns were raised about Peston’s unbalanced and slanted reporting across a range of topics, including Brexit and economic issues.”

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However, he and Mr Peston clashed furiously over whether it was possible for this to be achieved in the short time frame.

Mr Peston held up a bunch of papers, and said: “You negotiated this.

“The political declaration and some changes to the Northern Ireland protocol.”

The ITV journalist then held up a much larger stack of papers and said: “This is what Theresa May negotiated.

“This is 10 percent of what was negotiated in two years.”

A BBC spokesman told the Daily Mail: “From our interview with Prince Andrew, to an investigation into China’s re-education camps and a Panorama on the alleged cover up of war crimes by the British army, it is difficult to argue that the BBC lacks confidence in our journalism.

“We are committed to impartiality and make considered editorial judgments every day.”

Published at Sun, 08 Mar 2020 10:00:00 +0000